"O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes on on you." -2Chronicles 20:12
Jehoshaphat, King of Judah (circa 850BC), was one of the high points in the Old Testament. This was his prayer before his people when he was informed that three armies were together approaching to war against him. He knew both that God was strong and compassionate, and that he and his people were helpless. God answered by immediately inspiring a prophet in the crowd to declare,
The Object of Faith Fit for the Helpless
"Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, because the battle is not yours but God's. Tomorrow go down against them...you need not fight in this battle, station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem." -verses 14-16
The king and all the people then fell down and worshiped the Lord. Early the next morning the king and all the people went out of the safety of the city to the wilderness. The king then told the people to trust in the Lord. They all took counsel and and then the king appointed the singers to lead their peaceful march toward the approaching armies.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting." -verse 21
As they sang and marched the Lord threw the enemy armies into confusion and those armies destroyed each other. The singing army collected the spoils from the lifeless enemy and sang in joy on their march back to Jerusalem. God's purpose for setting Israel in the center of the nations is then stated as the conclusion,
"And the dread of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel." -verse 29
The Meaning of the Flesh/Spirit Conflict
Flesh versus spirit is the conflict between human strength and wisdom one one side, and God's strength and wisdom on the other. Read the Old Testament with this in view and you may be surprised at its commonness and clarity. Notice how the words flesh or spirit occasionally are even explicit. This conflict is not directly about sinning but rather about the focus of what one trusts in the moment. Trusting in human strength and wisdom bears the ugly fruit of sinfulness described in the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. Realizing one's helplessness and then trusting in God's provision (His strength and wisdom) bears the beautiful fruit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
Let's remember Jehoshaphat's experience so that when we are being threatened or mistreated, we also will see our helplessness and set our eye on the Father who has made us to be more than conquerors through him who loves us, no matter what comes our way.